A mechanistic framework to improve understanding and applications of push-pull systems in pest management.

Published online
03 Feb 2016
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Eigenbrode, S. D. & Birch, A. N. E. & Lindzey, S. & Meadow, R. & Snyder, W. E.
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Push-pull or stimulo-deterrent cropping systems combine a trap crop or other attractant or arrestant stimulus distant from the crop and a deterrent or repellent near or within the target crop, to divert pests, reducing their populations on the target crop. Although the concept is decades old, there are few successful applications in pest management. In this article, we address this shortcoming by offering a mechanistic conceptual framework of push-pull systems, based on the cues, sensory modalities, pest behaviours and spatial ranges over which they can occur during host selection and that can influence pest distribution. 3. We review published work on push-pull systems in the light of this framework, finding that the literature tends to focus on longer-range stimulo-deterrence strategies rather than the full range of cues involved and modalities that can come into play, with imperfect understanding of cues involved in most systems. The imbalance in research emphasis and incomplete understanding of push-pull mechanisms suggest opportunities to improve and broaden the palette of potential push-pull technologies. The framework also helps clarify other aspects important for achieving success with pushpull methods, including the role of synergy, deployment geometry, intraspecific variability and the wider arthropod community in these systems. Synthesis and applications. A conceptual and mechanistic framework is provided for the development of push-pull or stimulo-deterrent pest management approaches. This framework informs a proposed research agenda for designing push-pull technologies. That agenda involves including all cues and modalities, exploiting synergies, tuning deployment geometry in accordance with these factors. It also considers pest and crop dynamics and the arthropod community of the system. The framework can benefit managers by helping them to consider more fully the behaviour of the target pests when creating crop and non-crop geometries to achieve push-pull benefits. Research-based push-pull systems will be better implemented and modified by producers if they understand how insects respond to sources of push and pull in the system, allowing effective monitoring and fine-tuning to increase effectiveness of this specialized component of integrated pest management.

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